"The people themselves must come to realize their own difficulties in the development of their community and try to solve them by collective participation following an order of priority and taking their potentiality into account. " H.I.M Haile Selassie I.
It is with full joy that we at Shiriki (H.I.M. Negus Shiriki Community Based Organization), take this opportunity to utter thanksgiving for continued well-being and tangible progress.
First to the Divine, the Infinite Intelligence that guides and orders LIFE.
Shiriki organization represents the manifestation of the willing hearts of a number of youthful and courageous volunteers who have been brought together by a desire to be instruments of service. We have been graced with the strength to persist through the challenges and triumphs that such a choice brings. Our field of service is unlimited. However, we realize that through addressing issues relating to the basics-food, clothing and shelter, a foundation for a peaceful and ultimately livable earth are laid. We further recognize the paramount position of agriculture in the provision of these needs, which in themselves determine our very survival.
Unbounded appreciation for the efforts of the Shiriki volunteers who continue to keep this fire burning.
In subsequent posts, we shall be profiling the different volunteers, so that you may get to know them better.
|Volunteers Kristie and Githaka enjoying a sugarcane break|
Having gained valuable experience working with communities in the Kibera slums of Nairobi and in the hot climes of Kitui, eastern Kenya, the year 2012 saw us embark on this mission, in Maragua, Central Kenya.
A well-wisher, who is a prominent world personality in the establishing of sustainable communities, offered us a three acre piece of land. This was in response to our wish to set up an institution where knowledge on natural farming methods can be disseminated. We heartily embarked on this endeavor, knowing that this will be an opportunity to continue learning, especially from practical experience and the traditional wisdom. To provide hope for the youth. To stoke the embers of long forgotten community cooperation and self-help and to demonstrate solutions on how people all over the world can take control of their own destiny.
This is an appreciation for all those who have supported and continue to strengthen these efforts in myriad ways.
|Ras Ng'ang'a sharing skills|
We came to this place with various educational experiences, practical knowledge and unrestrained zeal. Most of all, with an open mind. The PLAN, to utilize all we have on our side, especially day to day divine guidance, so as to stimulate a renewed push in this community towards a long term consciousness of their natural capacities and responsibilities. Thus eliminating the unfortunate scourge of hunger, disease and illiteracy, same of which plague man's efforts to live a fuller and healthier life.
Our task then involved the physical efforts of reclaiming this farm which had long been unused, imbibing crucial lessons along the way from the experience, from our neighbours' collective involvement on the land and from published information which would help restore this parcel as a natural food source. Without use of harmful chemicals, GMOs, all any other human efforts to circumvent and shortcut life's processes.
|Ras Muthui tends to tomatoes|
Our appreciation to the community here at Maragua, who have embraced us with so much love, and who continue to be most helpful and willing. Together we grow to higher heights still.
It is now getting to three years since the Shiriki volunteers have been at the Maragua farm. Broken down, the first year was spent settling in, with all the hard physical labour to reclaim the land. Not to mention the day to day challenge of providing sustenance for a number of hungry volunteers. As well as integrating in a completely new environment.
|Wambui and Kristie preparing cowpea greens for dinner|
The second year involved much trial and error to identify the suitable crops for this land. Not just ones which can grow here, but those which have proved over generations to ensure long term food security, nutrition, favour the climate, replenish the soil other than drain it. Those that have capacity to be foundation raw material for local industries. For these purposes we identified ground foods like cassava, arrowroot, sweet potato, grains such as sorghum, legumes such as green gram, cow peas and pigeon peas. Other foods include local vegetables such as amaranth, spider herb, African nightshade, ' murenda' , mitoo and others. Hibiscus, Bananas, sugarcane and various fruits and fruit trees- passion, guava, avocado, mango, papaw. Herbs and spices, lemongrass, garlic, chillies, ginger, coriander and onion.
|Ras Muchina plants papaw|
The third year has been more settled, with the volunteers now taking time to green up the land with the aforementioned foods and enjoying a good supply of nourishment from the parcel. It also represents a period where we are reaping the benefits of good community relations, with the people, the government authorities, non-government institutions,schools and hospitals all willing and happy to work hand in hand with us. The period has also seen us receiving and working with more volunteers, especially local youth. The farmers from this and the wider community also continue showing great interest, and reaching out for knowledge and seed exchange.
|Indigenous vegetables (Mitoo)|
The mood at the 'camp' is upbeat and determined as ever. The experience and the inner growth, adds a spring to a sure step. Dear Reader, do not hesitate to be a part of this energy, should it resonate with you.
Our current position is a readiness to take the project to the next phase. This is the where we address the issues of surplus, preservation of harvested food, and economic independence. It will be done through local industry, value addition. With the farm products we are now well placed to dry, mill into flours, bake, pack, juice, and trade.
|Garlic and Sugarcane at the farm|
For this, we will require certain facilities, including a food drier, baking oven, flour mill, and cane juicer. Currently the volunteers are researching on the suitable options for these, as well as raising the funds for their purchase. It is our intention that the model we are setting here be suitable for replication, both locally and internationally, so that working in concert, the world communities can continue to be sustainable and in harmony with our ecosystems.
We invite you to freely share your views and comments.